LONDON: For UK Muslims, Ramadan 2021 looks set to be the second held in the shadow of the pandemic — but one UK mosque has told Arab News that even faced with lockdowns, worshippers can still flourish during the holiest month of the year.
“Coronavirus continues to ripple through our cities, and once again we must prepare to spend another Ramadan within our homes,” Nusaybah Naeem, editor at Birmingham’s Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre (GLMCC), told Arab News.
This year, she said, “we want to ensure that Muslims feel empowered to take responsibility for their Ramadan, whether or not we’re able to host the daily prayers, meals and events they’re accustomed to.”
In order to help their community to make the most of Ramadan despite the challenges, the mosque — one of the largest in Britain — is launching a campaign Monday that will help its own congregation and Muslims across the country to prepare for yet another holy month away from friends and family.
“The pious people of the past were known to begin their preparation for Ramadan six months in advance,” Naeem explained. “To follow in their footsteps, we are also beginning our preparations sooner than usual to ensure that we’re spiritually ready for the month.”
Community-based events like group prayers and daily iftars will not be possible this year, Naeem said, but “our religion is one of flexibility.”
Instead, she said, they have already planned more than 20 different kinds of online activities and events, including competitions for children that will help them get into the spirit of Ramadan. She also said they are in talks with the council about the possibility of safely welcoming a limited number of worshippers into their mosque.
Charitable work, too, is a fundamental aspect of Ramadan for any Muslim.
Last year, GLMCC said they raised about $960,000 for charity and donated more than 4,000 food parcels to Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and have already begun preparations to do the same this year.
But while the mosque is making its own preparations, Naeem explained that they are also encouraging their congregation, and Muslims more generally, to start their own preparations early this year.
“Educate yourself on Ramadan,” they advise. “Start reading up about it in advance to ensure that you’re spiritually prepared, and prepare your body physically by keeping healthy and exercising regularly.”
The mosque also suggested that people “fast every Monday and Thursday, as was the practice of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), to prepare yourself for a month of fasting,” and — for those that aren’t already doing it — “get into the habit of praying each of the five obligatory daily prayers.”
British Muslims, and those across the world, Naeem said, have been left feeling “weary and exhausted” by the pandemic. A time that should see families, friends and communities come together in celebration has left them separated, with many grieving lost loved ones.
But by preparing early, Naeem added, “Muslims will still be able to flourish in our spirituality and closeness to God.”